Culture

Wonders of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania

18 to 29 June 2017
Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania

Come with us to see a part of Europe not yet on the major tourist map. See three fascinating countries with superb scenery, friendly people and lands filled with ancient wonders.

Travel through the Balkans by train with us and along the way we will visit the culturally rich cities of Belgrade, Sofia and Bucharest and other smaller towns on route. Each city or town has its own story to tell and is over flowing with history and charm at every turn. We close the tour with a visit to the forever famous Bram Castle or better known as Count Dracula’s home.

Itinerary – Includes all breakfasts and dinners

18.06 – Day 1: Belgrade – arrival

Arrival, transfer to your hotel, dinner and overnight.

19.06 – Day 2: Belgrade – Petrovaradin Fortress – Novi Sad – Belgrade

Morning panorama tour of Belgrade – the capital city of Serbia, located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, which name in translation means “White City” – the New Belgrade, Palace of Serbia, Arena, New Ada Bridge, the confluence, St. Sava Cathedral Church, the New and the Old Parliament Building, Republic Square.

Departure from Belgrade to Novi Sad by road. Visit Petrovaradin fortress – an exceptional work of the 18th-century fortification engineering, one of the largest, most complex and best preserved artillery bastions in this part of Europe. It spreads over the northern slopes of Fruška Gora, on the right bank of the Danube and its monumentality at the rocks and the river contributed that many refer to it as “the Gibraltar of the Danube”.

Walking tour of the centre of Novi Sad – once the border area during the great Austro-Ottoman war, the second-largest city, known as well as “the Serbian Athens”. See the National Theater, the main city square, the City Hall, Catholic Church, Gathering Church and Bishop’s Court, all in nearby walking distance.

Return to Belgrade by train in the late afternoon. Dinner at Skadarlija, located in the Stari Grad (Old town) of Belgrade and generally considered the main bohemian quarter of the city. 2nd overnight in Belgrade.

20.06 – Day 3: Belgrade – Nis – Sofia

Early morning departure by train to Nis – the 3rd largest city in Serbia after Belgrade and Novi Sad. It is as well one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and Europe, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. Nis is the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor and the founder of Constantinople.

Visit the centre of the city with some free time for lunch and depart by Bulgarian coach to Sofia.

Upon arrival in Sofia – panorama of the city with the coach, check in at the hotel and free evening to rest. Dinner at the hotel.

 

21.06 – Day 4: Sofia – Koprivhtitsa – Sofia

Morning city tour of Sofia – the capital city of Bulgaria, which Emperor Constantine the Great once called “My Rome”.  The city covers ancient Serdica, founded 4,000 years ago by the Thracians, while its numerous monuments and buildings reveal as well Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian influence. Visit Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral, St. Sofia 6th c basilica, the Parliament Square, the Old City garden and the former Royal Palace, National Theatre, Presidency, St. George rotunda (4th c, the oldest building preserved in Sofia ), the ruins of Ancient Serdica and Arena di Serdica.

Afternoon departure to Koprivshtitsa by train – the railway is parallel to the Balkan mountains ( 1.5 – 2 h by train, one way ).  Koprivshtitsa is one of the most famous museum-towns in Bulgaria, declared national historical and architectural reserve, where one can still feel the spirit of the Bulgarian National revival. Narrow cobbled streets, arch-like bridges, stone fountains, high-stone walls with big gates, leading to picturesque houses create an inimitable romantic atmosphere

Return to Sofia by coach, dinner and overnight at the hotel.

For those, who are not interested in the train travel – free time in Sofia

 

22.06 – Day 5: Sofia – Rila Monastery – Bansko

Transfer to the central railway station of Sofia and departure south by train towards  Dupnitsa/ Blagoevgrad. Our coach will pick us up to visit Rila Monastery UNESCO site, located some 15 min drive. This is the largest monastery in Bulgaria, located at an altitude of 1147 m above sea level in Rila Mountain National Park.  Admire wooden balconies, azure fretwork, collonades, facades and colourful frescoes, silhouetted against a fantastic panorama of mountain peaks. The monastery has been founded in the 10th century.  It is a National Historical Reserve since 1976 and part of UNESCO list since 1983.

Proceed to Bansko museum town, located at the foothills of Pirin Mountain National Park ( UNESCO site ) – nowadays an international centre for winter and summer tourism. The eco paths and trails near the town, the numerous lakes and the old pine woods make it a popular site for recreation. In winter, Bansko is a host of many world cup alpine ski races, while in summer time international jazz, opera and theatre festivals are organized. We will have a walking tour of the Old Bansko to see St. Trinity Church and the complex of National Revival houses with their typical architecture – thick stone walls, narrow and dark loop-holes, iron wires on the windows and the heavy doors. Check in a the hotel, dinner and overnight.

 

23.06 – Day 6: Dobrinishte – Bansko – Septemvri – Plovdiv

We depart by narrow-gauge passenger train from Dobrinishte and Bansko to Septemvri. This is the only operating narrow gauge (760 mm) line in Bulgaria nowadays, built in the period 1921-1945. The journey takes almost five hours through the valleys and gorges. The route leaves Bansko, passing Razlog, Yakoruda and Velingrad, linking the western part of the Upper Thracian Plain with the Western Rhodopes, Rila and Pirin mountains. Due to the characteristics of the route through the mountains, the narrow gauge line is also known as the Alpine railway in the Balkans. Avramovo station, situated at 1267 meters above the sea, is the highest station in the Balkans. Along the route there are 35 tunnels, 11 stations and 10 stops.

Arrival at Septemvri train station in the afternoon and transfer to Plovdiv with panorama of the city. Check in at the hotel, dinner and overnight in Plovdiv.

 

24.06 – Day 7: Plovdiv – Brestovitsa village – Plovdiv

A day dedicated to Plovdiv and its region:  Plovdiv is considered the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe and the 6th oldest in the world. The Eternal City, as Rome is conventionally called, is much younger than Plovdiv. Athens, Carthage, Constantinople came into being later. A contemporary of Troy and having survived Mycenae, Plovdiv is a city upon layers of epochs.

We will visit the Old Plovdiv architectural reserve, awarded golden medal for architecture by UNESCO – the national revival houses complex, the ancient Amphitheatre, the Roman Forum and Stadium, St. Constantine and Helena Church.

In the afternoon, we will leave the city to visit Todoroff Boutique Wine cellar in the nearby village of Brestovitsa. Today, Bulgaria grows over 3000 wine varieties and is a renowned exporter to more than 70 countries, ranking among the 15 leading wine producing countries in the world.

Return to Plovdiv, free time to enjoy the central part of the city and 2nd night at the same hotel.

 

25.06 – Day 8: Plovdiv – Arbanassi – Veliko Turnovo

Morning departure by train going north to Gorna Oriahovitsa train station and the nearby Veliko Turnovo  – the medieval capital city of Bulgaria, picturesquely located on 4 hills above Yantra river. Our train will cross the Upper Thracian Plain, part of which is known as the Valley of Roses ( once 75% of the world rose attar was produced here ), as well as the highest and most picturesque part of the central Balkan Range ( the mountain, which gave its name to the Balkan Peninsula ).

Transfer from Gorna Oriahovitsa to Arbanassi Museum Village, located on a hill above Veliko Turnovo, where we will have some free time for lunch. The village is mentioned for the first time in documents from 1538. The village was so scenic that Greek bishops from Mount Athos and from as far as Jerusalem went to spend the summer there!

Departure to Veliko Turnovo, check in at the hotel, free time to rest. Evening walk along Samovodska Charshia – where there is a variety of craftsmen’s workshops: potter, armourer, coppersmith, carver, confectioner, weaver, icon-painter’s studio, photographer, café, a workshop where kadaif is made (kadaif is a classic Middle Eastern pastry), and a bakery. The centre recreates the atmosphere of the first decades of the 20th century.  Overnight in Veliko Turnovo.

 

26.06 – Day 9: Veliko Turnovo – Bucharest

Morning tour of Tsarevets Royal Hill with the fortress, Baldwin tower (the leader of the 4th Crusade) and the Patriarh`s complex.

Transfer to Gorna Oriahovitsa train station. Take the train to Bucharest, departing at 12:03 and arriving Bucharest at 17:25.

Upon arrival, we will have a panorama tour of the capital city of Romania, including the most interesting sites in Bucharest, like The Parliament’s Palace, also known as The People’s House, the second largest building in the world, after Penthagon, The Revolution Square, The Opera Square, Victoria Avenue and the Triumphal Arch. Transfer to the hotel, dinner and overnight.

 

27.06 – Day 10: Bucharest – Sinaia – Peles – Bran – Brasov

Transfer to the train station and take the train to Sinaia, named ,,the Pearl of the Carpathians’’. Visit the summer residence of the first royal couple, King Carol I and Queen Elisabeth, Peles Castle, one of the most beautiful palaces in Europe.

By coach continue to Bran to visit the famous medieval castle built as a fortress – The “Dracula’s” Castle. Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend and perched high atop a 200-foot-high rock, Bran Castle was built on the site of a Teutonic Knights stronghold dating from 1212.

Arrival in Brasov, ancient Kronstadt. Fringed by the peaks of the Southern Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions, Brasov is one of the most visited places in Romania. Brasov exudes a distinct medieval ambiance and has been used as backdrop in many recent period films. In this city, we are surrounded by legends of the vampires and a medieval stories. Walking tour through the old town centre, including the Black Church (the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, which has a collection of more than 300 Ottoman rugs), the Council Square, the Hirche House, the baroque style buildings from the Austro-Hungarian times. Traditional dinner and overnight at the hotel.

 

28.06 – Day 11: Brasov – Sighisoara by train – Sinaia

Early morning train departure from Brasov to Sighisoara. From the train station of Sighisoara we will take taxis to bring us to the old part of the city.

Sighisoara, the best preserved medieval citadel in Europe (UNESCO heritage). Founded by Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century, Sighisoara (Schassburg in German) still stands as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this perfectly intact 16th century gem with nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rivals the historic streets of Old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was he who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is just one of the many attractions here. Others include the Church on the Hill with its 500-year-old frescoes, the 13th century Venetian House and the Church of the Dominican Monastery, known for its Transylvanian renaissance carved altarpiece, baroque pulpit, Oriental carpets and 17th century organ. Lunch at the house of Dracula in Sighisoara ( Casa Vlad Dracul ).

Take the train to Sinaia. Transfer to your hotel, dinner and overnight.
29.06 – Day 12: Sinaia – Bucharest Airport.

Departure transfer by coach from Sinaia to Bucharest Airport ( 2.5 – 3 hours depending on the traffic ). End of our services.

We can also tailor your tour to include pre-tour nights in Belgrade and/or post-tour nights in Bucharest.

Place(s) available
NOW NO OVERNIGHT TRAIN AND INCLUDES ALL DINNERS
Holiday prices per person
  • Full 12 day holiday including flight from UK: £1,899
  • Own travel to Belgrade and back from Bucharest: £1,599
  • With overland travel from the UK: POA

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £210
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Highlights
  • Unspoilt and Un-touristy
  • Superb scenery
  • World Heritage Sites
  • First class rail travel where available
  • All 4* hotels
  • Half board (breakfast and dinner each day)
Price includes
  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Half board (breakfast and dinner each day)
  • Services of our local tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Belgrade.
Flights
  • Direct flights from Heathrow, indirect flights from Birmingham and Manchester.